On Sunday, I tweeted a link to this article by Marilyn Wedge about rates of ADHD in different countries.
Distilling the essence of this article, I subsequently wrote this for my regular column in the Generation Next blog.
In the US, at least 9% of schoolchildren are on medication for ADHD.
In Australia it is estimated that 11% of children and adolescents fulfill the criteria for ADHD.
Yet in France the figure is just .5%. As in POINT five. Half a percent.
Why is this?
Well, first of all the way in which French psychiatrists view ADHD compared to their US and Australian counterparts is significantly different.
In the US, psychiatrists consider ADHD to be a biological disorder with biological causes. As such they treat it with medications such as Ritalin.
However, across the Atlantic, French psychiatrists see ADHD as a condition that has social and situational causes. They seek to ascertain what issues in their social setting are causing the child act the way they do.
Treatment then invariably involves counseling and psychotherapy – rather than prescribing drugs.
The French also use their own system for diagnosing conditions. They prefer not to use the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) as we do in Australia and the US.
You may well have read of the concern that the redesign of the DSM may well lead to more people being labeled with a condition, and as such provide a bigger target for the pharmaceutical companies.
I must make it clear. I am NOT a mental health professional, but as a parent of a boisterous 5 year old, and a teacher of 15 years, I have a vested interest in this debate.
There are many sides to this discussion, and I plan to explore them in more depth in coming blog posts. I encourage others to respond with their thoughts… especially professionals and parents of kids with ADHD.